I like to think I have a nose for a problem. Not necessarily a bug, but just when something doesn’t seem right. The extent to which I follow up on these gut instincts varies depending on how strongly the nagging feeling remains.
These ‘hunches’ last for days, weeks or even months, often I struggle to find the vocabulary to express what I am thinking or feeling.
For example, on a past project, the system under test needed to store certain characteristics about a customer (derived from an external service) on their first interaction with the system.
‘First interactions’ could take a number of different paths. Something about this nagged at me after the system went into live service. I looked superficially several times at the evidence (including with the product stakeholders) and all SEEMED to be well, yet something still chipped away at my consciousness. By now I felt a little crazy, but time and change then proceeded to distract me.
Then the big day came. The information was called from its place of storage to generate a product for those customers to consume. Vast swathes of customers stored data was missing, stemming from a couple of customers flows I didn’t anticipate in my testing.
I KNEW IT!
I then talked to the stakeholders involved and reiterated how I knew that something was wrong.
This was a while ago, but I haven’t reflected until now.
I probably have more questions than answers.
Why didn’t I act on my suspicions? Especially if deep down I knew that there was a problem.
Why did the testing originally done against the system not cover these flows? What questions did I not ask of myself, the stakeholders and the system under test?
Why did the stakeholders not buy (further) into my suspicions? Perhaps my procrastination and vagueness didn’t inspire them to investigate further.
For now, I think I’ll take away as a resolution to act on these hunches with a little more determination and strive the grow the vocabulary and skills required to express myself with greater clarity.
But, one conclusion remains for me, the gut is one of my favourite parts of the testers mindset.